Texas Standard For February 17, 2021

It was set up to be an electrical island independent from a national power network. Cold comfort for millions of Texans right now. With a winter storm leading to rolling blackouts leaving more than 4 million Texans in the cold, the nonprofit deigned to manage the state’s power grid finds itself getting sudden national notoriety, as angry Texans demand answers. What is ERCOT, and who’s really at the switch behind this current power crisis? As the Lone Star State anticipates a thaw, things heat up between electricity providers and lawmakers now calling for investigations. The latest on the winter storm and its many ripple effects today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardFebruary 17, 2021 9:35 am

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Wednesday, February 17, 2021.

A note to listeners: It’s illegal in Texas to hike prices during a declared disaster like this winter storm – but Texas should still watch out. If you see unreasonable prices for gas, groceries, hotel rooms, medicine or any other necessities, you should report it. You can do that on the Texas Attorney General’s web site.

How Did We Get Here ERCOT

Ed Hirs, energy fellow in the Department of Economics at the University of Houston, talks to the Standard about the state of the power grid and how we got here with ERCOT.

TX Lege and Utilities 

The Texas House of Representatives will hold a hearing later this month to review what exactly went wrong this week with power outages across the state. Newly-appointed House Speaker Dade Phelan requested a joint session with the House State Affairs and Energy Resources committees on Feb. 25. State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, serves on the state affairs committee and talks to the Standard.

California versus Texas, COVID-19 Response

How is it possible that the country’s two most populous states, Texas and California, took completely opposite approaches to the COVID-19  pandemic and yet their results were similar? Alexandra Suich Bass writes about this for The Economist and talks to the Standard.


Impact of Power Outages around the State

Storm’s Impact on Homelessness in East Texas

The homeless are especially vulnerable right now. The risk of hypothermia is very real and many homeless shelters currently find their services in higher demand than usual. Brian Livingston, the executive director of the Highway 80 Rescue Mission, which runs homeless shelters in Tyler and Longview, talks to the Standard.

Latest Weather Challenges from Harris County

Harris County, which includes Houston and parts of 33 other cities is led by County Judge Lina Hidalgo. During her tenure, Hidalgo has dealt with explosions, flooding, fires and now – a one of a kind winter storm that she calls “the winter version of Hurricane Harvey.” The Standard checks in with her to see how Harris County is faring at the moment.

All this and Texas News Roundup, plus Social Media Editor Wells Dunbar with the talk of Texas.

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on texasstandard.org and KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.